FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband

Stephen Sprunk stephen at sprunk.org
Wed Aug 26 23:17:43 CDT 2009

Jack Bates wrote:
> Roy wrote:
>> The problem that the FCC faces is making a realistic definition that
>> can apply to the whole US and not just cities.

If I'm reading this question right, the issue is that Congress
appropriated some pork for "rural broadband" and now it's up to the FCC
to guess what Congress intended that to mean so they can determine which
applicants will be allowed to feed at the public trough.

I'd say that most laymen currently consider "broadband" to be an
always-on service at 1Mb/s or faster, regardless of the particular
technology used.  FTTH sounds attractive, but there's just not enough
pork to actually do it for a non-trivial number of rural homes; it's
barely feasible for (sub)urban homes.  FTTC is the only realistic
option, with the last mile being either existing copper or existing
coax.  The "curb" has a slightly different meaning in a rural area, of
course, but that doesn't need to be specified in the definition anyway.

>> How does fiber (home or curb) figure in the rural sections of the
>> country?
> It figures in nicely, thank you. Of course, our definition of curb
> might be 1.5 miles further than your definition. ;)
> 2 miles is the cutoff for > 10mb/s reliability, but to deal with
> future stuff, most of my telco customers have dropped it down to 1.5
> miles. 

My ILEC's techs claim they can run VDSL2 several miles but lose about
1Mb/s per 1000ft from the head end.  Luckily I'm about 1500ft from mine,
and my line tested out at ~58Mb/s -- though they'll only sell me 10Mb/s
of that for data and 25Mb/s of it for TV.  It's amazing how far we've
come in the last two decades since I got my first 2400bps modem.

If VDSL2 can't go far enough for rural areas and/or would require more
remote units than is feasible, I'd say that ADSL is fast enough that it
should also qualify.  Supporting triple-play should not be a
requirement, IMHO, as customers can always use DBS for TV and most
people who claim to have "broadband" today don't have or can't get
triple-play.  I wouldn't go as far as accepting ISDN/IDSL, though, if
anyone is even still selling that junk.


Stephen Sprunk         "God does not play dice."  --Albert Einstein
CCIE #3723         "God is an inveterate gambler, and He throws the
K5SSS        dice at every possible opportunity." --Stephen Hawking

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